Classic Rewatch: The Claws of Axos

The Claws of Axos

The most interesting fictional adversaries have more in common than they do in conflict: Holmes and Moriarty. Gandalf and Saruman. Kenobi and Vader. Burger King and Ronald McDonald. What may make their ‘familiar contempt’ even more intriguing, perhaps, are the instances where they must put aside their differences and work towards a common goal — typically their own survival. We present, as a grab-your-popcorn-and-just-enjoy examples, the Doctor and the Master trying to jointly outwit an alien force that is quickly outgrowing and outmaneuvering them both, no thanks to the inherent greed/stupidity of a few humans in power.

(Also, electro-pasta-beasts, ’embiggened’ frogs, and mumbling country bumpkins clumsily riding bikes into freezing ponds. This is Classic Who at some of its finest, people — the agony and the ecstasy in a single story.)

This week, we relish the 1971 classic, “The Claws of Axos”. Pertwee and Delgado are at their finest, the costumes and effects at their most questionable, and the story is aces. Pull up a bowl of psycho spaghetti, and dig in.

BONUS: We play a round of “UNIT Must Have a Star Labs Division”, an alt-universe character improvisation game. (Coming soon to a convention near you!)

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Classic Rewatch: The Mind of Evil

The Mind of Evil

It doesn’t take much to rattle some people. For those poor souls, their fears and concerns weigh so heavily upon them, the slightest provocation send them reeling into fits of worry and despair. Others are made of sterner stuff — but as we’ve learned from so many stories, everyone has their limits. There have been a number of science fiction series who have toyed with the idea of criminal rehabilitation via some form of mental reconditioning (Star Trek, Fringe, The Twilight Zone, Babylon 5, just to name a few), but as in so many instances across the decades, Doctor Who was among the first to explore the concept.

This week, we consider the many important developments that occur within the Pertwee story, “The Mind of Evil”. UNIT is at the forefront, and we gain a fuller appreciation for Yates and Benton; the Doctor and the Master face off once again, with iconic performance from Delgado, and a deeper understanding of their know-thine-enemy relationship; and Jo Grant establishes herself as a valuable, adaptive, resourceful, and daresay indispensable companion to the Third Doctor. Suffice to say, we consider it encouraged, if not required Classic Who fare.

Bonus: We run down the stellar guest list for the upcoming RegenerationWho 3 convention in Baltimore, Maryland, and the number of discussion panels we’ll be hosting through the weekend. Hope you join us!

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Classic Rewatch: Terror of the Autons

Terror of the Autons

The deus ex machina trope has been explored and adapted more times in science fiction media that we could count. When Doctor Who writer Robert Holmes developed the Nestene Consciousness for “Spearhead from Space”, he paired the concept of a non-corporeal sentient being with the god-in-the-machine premise in the form of the Autons, and the Whovian world would never be the same. Not left to rest on his laurels, however, Holmes was by no means finished, and in the next appearance of the villainous beings, they are assisted by one of the greatest additions the programme has seen. Enter: the Master.

This week, we enjoy the action, adventure, and cat-and-mouse interplay between Doctor and Master in the Third Doctor story, “Terror of the Autons”. Liz Shaw has made an abrupt off-screen departure, the effervescent Josephine Grant emerges as the new companion, and the deadly plastic menace is back once again with the manipulative evil genius of the Master to help in their efforts to overthrow Earth from England outward (as its customary). We delve into the Doctor’s affinity for blowing up electronics, Jo’s prowess as a Level-30 lockpick, the boyish charm of Captain Yates, and the undeniable creepy-cool that is Roger Delgado.

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